It begins in the late 90s, right after I buy my townhouse in the Burbank Hills, in LA. I get a Latin cleaning woman named Ardis to come in and clean for me and she turns out to be quite a piece of work. She's in her early 50s, very efficient, dumb as toast, lively enough to light up a room and a gym rat with a remarkable body. When she cleans my house she's usually wearing short-shorts and a halter-top. She's fun to look at and I catch her checking me out but she's my cleaning woman, so I'm not going there. Besides, I'm dating all of these beautiful, neurotic, emotionally fragile, Prozac- swallowing, therapy-addicted, I'm-the-center-of-the-universe Jewish American Princesses from Beverly Hills and while I'm not getting any because that crowd doesn't seem to be into sex, at least I have dates for sushi and hiking.
Six months go by and I have a motorcycle accident. Damn lucky I was to survive, much less not be permanently crippled. But I did have 3rd degree burns on my arms and legs from road rash plus a broken leg, which kept me on crutches for 8 weeks. So there I was ... in pain, lonely, hungry for female companionship and feeling very sorry for myself, when Ardis shows up for her appointed rounds. She'd heard about the accident, as she lived in the neighborhood and people talk. She brought me some food, which was very thoughtful, as I could barely feed myself, much less go shopping (I lost 15 lbs. in those eight weeks. When you're on crutches, you can't even carry a cup of coffee, much less prepare food.)
I'm watching TV as she cleans the house, waving her ass whenever she passes me in her little cut-offs and no bra (it was obvious, OK?). Finally she's finished and there she stands ... in front of my dining room window, the sunlight streaming in behind outlining her body, legs spread apart, her hands on her hips, her eyes focused on mine and in her most concerned, nurturing voice, she asks:
"Is there anything else I can do for you?"
And so began my very other-than-house-owner-and-cleaning-woman relationship with my cleaning lady, Ardis. But this story is about Aaron and Rachel and we're getting to that.
Several months later, Ardis rents the townhouse right across from mine and now lives 75 feet from me, which makes our screwy relationship very easy. Of course, it never occurs to me that this might not have been a coincidence that she moved in so close to me but I wasn't thinking clearly in those days. We're hanging out quite a lot and I'm getting that she's a real nut case. Remember Rain Man? Think Rain Girl. But she's a lot of fun; a real party animal and I do take comfort there from time to time, with no obligations or responsibilities. I don't care who she goes out with because I don't take her seriously. Ardis? I don't think so.
A few more months go by and my new girlfriend, a young Chinese underwear model named Lily, moves in and my relationship with Ardis ends, as Lily fires her because she senses something and brings in her own cleaning woman. (How do women know these things?)
By now I'd healed from the motorcycle crash and Lily and I would go riding together. But unknown to me at the time, Ardis and her daughters (she had two of them who occasionally came to visit her) used to watch me through her window (remember ... only 75' away) and, I found out later, would make fun of me.
"Oh, look at Aaron on his motorcycle with his Chinese girlfriend. He thinks he's sooo cool!"
OK, I did but so what? Besides, with what it costs to outfit a young hottie with a full set of Harley leathers, I'd better look cool.
After 12 months, the thing with Lily ended, beginning a period of pathetic whining and pining lasting almost two years and out of boredom; I take up with Ardis again. But now she's popping pills, drinking heavily and acting crazier than ever. Still, it's better than wanking myself raw while watching Asian porn videos. During that time she also nurses me through another motorcycle accident, which caused me to give up motorcycling forever, as I concluded that me and motorcycles weren't in God's plans but that's merely an aside to our story.
A few months later, Ardis asks me to come over and help carry some cartons up the stairs for her. Actually, it was for her youngest daughter, who had just escaped from an abusive marriage and who was going to be staying with her mother for a while. She looked to be in her late 20s. Long, thick black hair, olive complexion, big, dark, expressive eyes and a magnificent, athletic body. She was wearing a pair of shorts that I watched ride up the crack of her ass as I followed her up the stairs, cartons in tow. She exuded a powerful Latin sexuality, framed in a child-like vulnerability.
She was beautiful.
I couldn't take my eyes off her.
She was irresistible.
I got a rush being in the same room with her.
I wanted her desperately.
Her name was Rachel.
Over the next few months I hardly saw Rachel at all; just glimpses of her pulling in and out of Ardis' garage in her little white BMer convertible. I was still partying with Ardis and it was during this period that she confessed her love for me. I dismissed this as the ravings of a lonely, horny drunk who found me attractive, except she cleaned my house, which should have seemed weird to me but somehow didn't.
I was enjoying some fun fantasies involving the two of them and, post Lily, I was going out with some very high-powered Asian women so, OK ... why don't we talk about that for a moment. I call this My Year of Living Dangerously (with all due respect to Peter Weir) or: So Many Asians and So Little Time. There are about 700,000 Asian women in LA County and I tried to date them all. (Of course I was trying to replace Lily but so what? They really are very sexy creatures.)
You can't imagine how many different types of Chinese people there are, not to mention all the other Asian cultures? There are the Taiwanese, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Southern Provinces, Northern Provinces (the basketball and volleyball players come from the North and Central Provinces of China). Then there are the Thai, Japanese, Korean, Philippine, Vietnamese, and even others.
There was the Thai woman who edited the UCLA Law Journal and ran marathons; a Korean engineer who built airports and who claimed that she and her last boyfriend had sex five times a day while they worked on mega projects together (the ultimate power couple?); the Taiwanese scientist who designed satellite optical systems for NASA and the Department of Defense (we discussed the unified field theory over sushi); an actress, a dancer (Lin Kwan was only passing as a dancer; she was really a Chinese trophy wife looking for an American husband but God, she was beautiful. Sadly, she refused to have sex with me because I had big hands and feet and to her this also meant a large penis and she said she was small inside, so this scared her.)
There was a former Olympic volleyball player who couldn't speak English but she was young and magnificent, so who cared? A wealthy doctor who owned her own cosmetic surgery clinic and did her own local infomercials and who showed me off to her women friends at Chinese functions, which was the first time I was the trophy (How do you do? I'll be your Jewish trophy person.); a Chinese banker, a Vietnamese journalist and a Japanese executive from Sanyo who rode a Harley and got her kicks beating me at tennis and who screamed anti Semitic obscenities when she orgasmed.
It was all very easy. It seems that Jewish men are highly coveted by Southern California's Asian/American women. The stereotype they have is that we're good providers, educated, not abusive, decent lovers, endowed (what can I tell you ... that's what they believe; besides, have you seen Asian men?), not heavy drinkers (not me) and, we're controllable; particularly important to powerful Chinese women who run the family. But while we're at it, allow me to dispel the myth of the over-sexed, insatiable, love-you-long-time, make you holler, willing-to-do-and-try-anything-sexual-to-please-or- control-a-man Asian woman. Lily was like that (sex-as-a-weapon) but like any other race of women, some are and some aren't. In fact, you wouldn't believe how many won't or even don't or worse, probably shouldn't. It's a myth perpetuated by Hollywood, because so many white guys find them sexy. But I will say this ... the ones that do? Oh boy!
But this story is about me and Rachel.
It was this Thanksgiving. All this ultimately unproductive and unsatisfying dating was making me nuts. Serious partner hunting is a job. An expensive job and you don't get nearly as much trim as married people think. Anyway, I'd given up women for the holidays, as I needed a break and didn't have plans for Thanksgiving, so I invited Ardis to brunch at a fancy restaurant in the Glendale mountains and:
"Oh, by the way, why don't you bring along your daughter, what's-her-name?" (Please?)
The day started off uneventfully, except Ardis complained that I wasn't paying enough attention to her and the waiter thought Rachel and I were the couple and that Ardis was the third wheel. Interesting, because there was very little actual conversation between Rachel and me, as I was having trouble speaking. No, not too many mimosas; too much Rachel. I couldn't concentrate. I couldn't take my eyes off her. Being around her was making me dizzy. I took the women home ... I couldn't stand it.
The next morning I called Ardis on some pretext and Rachel answers and when I say hello, she exclaims:
"What? What do you mean, 'YOU'? What are you talking about? What? Huh? Can I talk to your mom, please?"
Dumfounded, I realized that I'd been on her mind. This creature ... this young, beautiful child/woman has actually been thinking about me. She was tongue-tied and wasn't able to express any more than "You!". So now what? Christ! What do I do with this? Well, nothing, because I'm fooling around with her mother and because they live 75 feet from me and because she's young enough to be my daughter and because I'm scared shitless of her. And because she's too ... she's too ... sheee's ... sheee's ... Oh, God!
Two weeks later I take them out for brunch again but this time Rachel and I are getting touchy-feelie. A shoulder, an accidental touch of the leg or arm and lots of eye contact. And Ardis? Who cared? She was blasted and was flirting with some bi-couple who was hitting on all three of us while we were outside on the terrace, overlooking the hillside that I was hoping Ardis would fall off of and disappear down. Funny thing, though. The people thought Rachel and I were the couple and Ardis was the third wheel. Interesting how everyone was getting that impression. We'd been drinking and by now Rachel has loosened up and we discover we're laughing at the same things. Oh, God! Oh, God!
We get back to where we lived and after parking the car and in an act of alcohol- induced bravery (is there a better kind?), I turn around to Rachel, who was walking behind me and out of earshot of Ardis, look her in the eye and blurt out to this too young, too beautiful, too daughter of the cleaning woman that I'm hanging out with and living way too close to:
"My God, you are SO hot!" And she smiles this incredible sexy smile and flashes her doe eyes at me and I'm going to feint with adrenaline overload but I said it and I'm glad! And she's still smiling at me. Oh my God.
The three of us went back to Ardis' to hang out but the rest of the afternoon was filled with a sexual tension like I'd never experienced before. Rachel and I are staring at one other, not knowing what to say or what to do. Is she waiting for me to make a move? I'm frozen. And even though Ardis is passed out on the couch, I don't say anything. I don't know what to make of this. What do I do here? Finally I can't take it anymore and in total befuddlement, I go home. All 75 feet away. Chicken-shit asshole!
That night there was a knock at my door.
It was Rachel.
It was December. There had been two brunches with Ardis, the now third wheel and freakish mother cum cleaning woman of no consequence and Rachel, her young and beautiful daughter and the object of my desire. And much to my incredible delight, Rachel had communicated her mutual desire for me in return. (I think.) But what to do with this? Not only is she way too young and living way too close but I'd been way too hanging out with her way too mother. (Were these really problems or just my insecurities?) And of course, that night Rachel rendered all my concerns irrelevant by showing up at my door, asking me if she can come in.
There's edginess to some people. You're never really sure what they're thinking, what they're going to do or how they're going to respond. You sense things about them that are somehow off or different, yet you can't put your finger on it. There's something going on behind their eyes that you're not privy to. Maybe something in their past that they're not telling you about? Secrets. It makes many people uncomfortable. Nervous. And yet, there's something seductive about edgy people. Something compelling that draws you in while it makes you nervous. Especially when they're as beautiful and sexy as Rachel.
She has an edge to her. I've never met someone quite like this. The edge is the road less traveled. The edge is where the spice is. The edge is the thrill. The view. And isn't that part of the attraction for some of us? It's certainly true for me. It feels like Rachel isn't completely housebroken but I'm hard pressed to define exactly what that means. Yet on some level ... perhaps the innocence in her eyes ... she appears to be a highly moral person with strong values and a good heart. Maybe she's pushed life's envelope more than most. And if her journey hasn't been mainstream, neither has mine. And while I talk about her being edgy, she's saying the same thing about me. And like the Piper Laurie character in the original Carrie..."she liked it".
We snuck around all of December, neither of us having any idea what to make of this or really caring, as we were just a couple of kids having fun, swimming in our chemistry. OK, maybe one kid having fun and one not-so-kid living a fantasy. For one thing, Rachel was coming off a very brief but abusive marriage to a rather well known Latin comedian and movie producer and wanted no part of another relationship at this time, so having an older fuck-buddy living next door was a convenience. For another, why would she be interested in some old guy when she could have any guy (or any woman, as I found out later) just by walking in a room? (Why, indeed!) And last, I was the neighbor and her mother's friend (not anymore, baby!) and for Rachel, the whole thing was fun but felt way weird. After all, I was old enough to be her father, a thought which frequently crossed my mind in very interesting ways.
There was this giddy clandestine feeling to the whole thing. My house had become our private little rendezvous, yet we were surrounded by people who knew us but didn't know she was there (we thought). Certainly, living 75 feet away from one another made this very easy but at the same time offered up challenges to keep it a secret from mom, as she was also 75 feet away. It wasn't long before Rachel was staying the night, making it even tougher to keep our affair secret from the neighbors, who several times saw us together in the early morning but while we got funny looks, no one said anything. (At least not to us.) It was helpful, of course, that Ardis, who had asked me during this period why she hadn't seen much of me lately, was dumb as a post, so we could continue to fool her but it was getting tougher. For example, as Rachel normally parked in mom's garage, where does she put her car when she's sleeping at my house? Life is filled with little challenges.
But this sneaking around was getting old in a hurry and we were sure that people were beginning to notice. The relationship, which had been intensely physical (It's remarkable what an old body is capable of when sufficiently motivated.), was changing before our eyes. I could step outside myself and watch my feelings grow. With each new dawn, feeling more than the day before. I wanted more. I wanted to "date" her. I wanted a relationship and I wanted it to be public. I wanted to shout to the world: "I'M IN LUST!!! ... Uh ... LOVE! I'M IN LOVE!" (What was happening here, anyway?)
As the weeks went by, our curiosity at who we were became an on-going conversation. But that nagging little thought kept crossing my mind: why would such a young and beautiful woman be having an affair with someone old enough to be her father? Be afraid. Be very afraid!
"Who are you? Where did you come from?" (Very inane talk here but we were falling in fuck love and that can make you brain dead.)
Unfortunately, another on-going conversation was Rachel's curiosity about my past relationship with her mother, my former cleaning lady, drinking companion and occasional partner.